Notes for the 3 weeks ending on Jan 5th, 2003
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2003)
.. Add your thoughts/messages
in the Forum
Jan 5 Note-1
The #1 Indian vs the #2 Indian matchup turned out just as the rankings predicted, proving once again that Prakash Amritraj is here to stay .. [R1] (wc) P.Amritraj d. (wc) H.Mankad, 63 64
.. We had score updates from Singapore, off the Star sports TV coverage,
by our fanclub member PK Basu (thanks!) .. Prakash broke Harsh once each
late in both the sets (8th game of the first set and 7th in the second) ..
Both players had a lot of break points, and Prakash's serve bailed him out
a few times .. Good match .. Prakash was quite gracious in his post-match
comments - he said it was tough to go up against somebody who is a good friend
like Harsh, and said he was proud to have his dad as his coach .. The
win gives Prakash 15 points, raising his points total to 135 and his ranking
from 280 to about 260 !! .. WOW..
Up next for Prakash
is the winner of the Nadal vs Ascione match .. Both are very talented players
.. By the way, here is what ATP gave yesterday for a preview on the Chennai
Open -- "The four players who made the biggest ranking jumps in 2003 are all competing in Chennai: France's Thierry Ascione
(who moved 455 places to end 2003 with an ATP entry ranking of No. 89), Russia's
Dmitry Tursunov (moved 233 places to No. 98), Igor Andreev (moved 196 places
to No. 90) and Spanish teenager Rafael Nadal (moved 188 places to No. 47)"
.. That shows exactly what the tournament has got a reputation for - as the
place where a lot of young talents show up .. While complaining that there
is no "great men" like Becker coming anymore, I wish the press (and the tournament
press releases themself, which try to sugarcoat things with talk of supporting
Indians and all that gas) would recognize the true identity of the Chennai
Open in this regard .. Back to the "Light Amritraj" (no, I certainly don't
mean he is a light weight; just translating his name :)), he has a tough
second round on wednesday - but he is showing all indications that he is
ready to take on the world .. Go Kash!
In early matches today,
David Ferrer (yet another Spaniard who has made huge strides up the rankings
not too long ago) won, as did the last direct entry, Harel Levy who beat
We had some technical difficulties with the chatroom today, and so I have put up the old chatroom
for use during this week whenever Indians' matches are on at Chennai .. I
will update the scores as and wehn they become known at our Chennai Open page ..
Jan 4 Notes
The draw came out
from Chennai today, and we find two Indian wildcards facing each other ..
Prakash Amritraj faces Harsh Mankad!! .. Of course, my first reaction was
to look for the schedule because I knew that they could make it hell for
Harsh Mankad by making him play Monday itself, knowing that Harsh was still
in a plane and would not even reach Mumbai till past midnight Sunday .. He
is arriving sometime Monday from Mumbai .. I had to look for a place to go
and puke, once I saw that my worse pessimism on human decency proved true
-- there it was, Harsh scheduled to play Prakash at in the second match on
Monday .. I looked for some newspaper people standing up and taikng a note
of this, and was glad to find the ever-reliable Prajwal Hegde's article in
the Deccan Herald .. Here she ends her article with this,
For Mankad, it’s going to be a tough start to the year. He is playing the second match on Stadium court tomorrow and he is yet to arrive in Chennai. According to his mother, the 24-year-old was only informed about the wildcard on Friday ..... Mankad was training at the Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida in the off-season and is landing in Mumbai late on Sunday night. He is expected to be in Chennai on Monday afternoon, leaving him about six hours to recover from that tedious journey. Ravi Krishnan said, “It is not our problem if he doesn’t get enough time to practice.” That reaction best sums up the relationship between the Indian players and the owners of the country’s first ATP Tour event. [Mr. Ravi Krishna is Managing Director, IMG TWI, South Asia and Senior Institutional Vice President, IMG - Jay].
Holy cow, can you
believe that? .. If anybody had a doubt on what exactly was going on here,
that quote should put it all to rest .. Man, how low can people sink? ..
In all my years of tirades about the Chennai Open, I don't think I have blamed
any Indians there by name. Looks like our press came through on this
Anyway, I am glad
that even though the tournament stuck it up Harsh's rear-end, the winner
of the match would still be an Indian .. In all fairness, Prakash has beaten
Harsh once, and would have preferred not to be given this kind of help, I
am sure .. Tournaments the world over try to go the extra mile for the domestic
players, and they are allowed to schedule first round matches all the way
till early wednesday .. But no. Not at Chennai. Now those of
you readers who may have thought I was just being way too whiny about the
Chennai Open see what is going on?
But the surprises
don't end there .. Mustafa Ghouse seems to have managed to get a wildcard
in doubles for Harsh by signing in .. What, the tournament could not find
a couple of washed up foreigners to squeeze into the doubles draw? .. OK,
let us not complain - be thankful for all small favors.
OK, back to the draw matter .. Karan Rastogi gets a wildcard to play in the first round .. Also, the biggest story today was from Vishal Punna in the qualies, as he upset the 3rd seed Jeff Salzenstein (USDA,132)
who was a former top-100 player and has been playing well in a sort of a
comeback over the last few months .. Punna did that in a 3rd set tioebreaker
upset win .. WOW! .. How did Vishal do that? .. The DSCL National Champion
is quickly racing to the top of the list in India, and seem nearly ready
to join the RB-HM-PA trio soon, at this rate .. Punna became the first Indian
since Harsh in 1998, to reach the Chennai qualifying finals .. Can he upset
the 5ths eed Knowle and make it in tomorrow? -- You bet I think he can ..
the scores and the draws in our Chennai Open page.
Of course, let us
not forget Hesh .. He is playing with Dmitri Tursounov (RUS), unseeded and
taking on the top seeds in doubles .. I think Tursounov is a pretty good
partner - look for Hesh to do some damage, despite missing his originally
expected partner, Leander.
Jan 3 Notes
OK, everything is
set for the Tata Open draw, it seems .. The three wildcards went to Prakash
Amritraj, Harsh Mankad and Karan Rastogi .. Sometime Friday late evening
in Florida, Harsh Mankad got confirmation through AITA that a wildcard had
been granted to him .. Just in the nick of time, that too .. He got a bit
lucky and found a seat to fly out and left from Florida right after noon
Saturday - he will reach Mumbai Sunday night and will get to Chennai on Monday
morning, barring airport fog delays in India.
So, I should officially
pull the foot out from my mouth for jumping all over the Tata Open organizers,
and I should drink a bit of decaf :) ... I don't know why they had to wait
this long to decide to give the WC to Harsh, but I won't complain now ..
All is well that end well, no? .. Let us hope for a miracle or two from the
three Indians in the main draw, PA, HM and KR .. That is the most Indians
we have had in the main draw there .. The PTI news release
today said that it is the first time that all three wildcards went to Indians
.. Actually that is not correct - we had three (LP, PA, RB) last year as
well and that was the first time it had happened in Chennai in 7 years ..
Frankly, though I still whine every year and the Indian players sometimes
still have to wait till the last minute to hear of WCs etc, the tournament
has come a long way from the days when they used to give wildcards with total
disregard for the fans's and players' feelings -- to undeserving guys like
Brian Phau, Jonathan Stark, Paul Kilderry, Oliver Marach, etc .. They really
don't do that kind of stuff anymore, and that is nice to see ..
I am not sure if the
main draw has been made yet, but as the reports say, it is not going to be
easy for Paradorn to keep his title this time, with five top-25 players,
probably the most we have seen there .. Hopefully there will be no last-minute
wiuthdrawals or anything .. Moya is of course very popular in Chennai Moya,
but Schalken, Robredo, Mantilla, etc can all cause damage .. Watch out for
Rafael Nadal, the truly rising phenom from Spain .. Getting him to come to
Chennai was nice, and this tournament is indeed getting some reputation as
a favorite place for many rising stars .. Actually the Spaniards must somehow
really like Chennai - there are ten of them there! .. I saw in a tennis bulletin
board somebody asking - "are you sure this torunament is in India and not
in Spain?" :-) ..
The qualies have started
today there, and the field looks quite tough with the 8th seed Zelko Krajan
ranked at #220 .. Three Indians, Somdev Dev Varman, Vishal Punna and
Mustafa Ghouse made it into the second round .. Vishal won a good match
against Ajay Ramaswamy and Mustafa beat wildcard Parantap Chaturvedi .. The
big win was by Somdev Dev Varman, who again showed that he is ready
to move on to the professional levels with yet another top-500 win -- upsetting
Jonathan Erlich (ISR,473) in a tough and gritty 46 75 75 comeback .. He has
a tough second round against the 4th seed Danai Udomchoke (THA,162) .. Vishal
and Mustafa also face tough second round opponents - 3rd seed Jeff
Salzenstein (USA,132) and 5th seed Julian Knowle (AUT,164) .. In other first
round matches, Sunil Kumar played quite well, it seems, in a 46 46 loss to
the second seed Jan Vacek (CZE,129) .. Vijay Kannan went down to the
6th seed Noam Okun and Manoj Mahadevan lost to 8th seed Krajan .. Peter Luxa
pulled the big upset on the first seed Martin Arguello (ITA) .. I don't know
how Stephen Amritraj who had signed in for the qualies yesterday ended up
being replaced by an alternate player (Karsten Braasch) today .. See all
the score in our Chennai Open page.
Tara Iyer's fine run ended in a close match yesterday at the Group A Copa Casablanca in Mexico .. She went down to Maraike Biglmaier (GER,150), 62 26 67(1)
yesterday in the QF .. Still great work by Tara out there, becoming the first
Indian girl (to my knowledge) to reach QF in a group-A level event ..
The National Junior
Masters got all done today in Delhi with the top four seeds in each category
winning the finals -- Rupesh in the boys u18, Sanaa in the girls u18, Agnel
Gladwyn in the boys u14 and GK Shwetha in the girls u18 .. It was ncie to
see Swetha in the finals of both the u14 and u18 events .. Agnel and Swetha
have clearly established themselves as the tops in their age categories and
as players to watch out for .. I have not got all of friday's semifinal scores,
but all the rest iof it can be found at our AITA Junior Masters page.
Jan 2 Note-2
Hold everything ..
Now a source tells me that Tata Open actually never announced the wildcard
for Canas, and there is a bit of confusion going on (come to think of it,
I am not sure if I saw an official announcement, except what is at the Canas
site -- and Canas himself is in the semis this week at the New Caledonia
challenger as of today) .. I may have jumped the gun in damning the Tata
Open? .. I hope so, and I will only be happy to eat excrement and try to
extricate my foot from my mouth, if it all turns out differently than we thought.
Jan 2 Note-1
The 3rd main draw wildcard for the Chennai Open was announced this evening, and it has gone to our top junior player Karan Rastogi
.. Karan is a super talent and is the highest ranked Indian junior since Leander
Paes, so he richly deserved getting a wildcard .. He is expected at around
#6 in the new junior world rankings next week - it would be great to see
him do something special at Chennai .. By the way, don't think the kid cannot
pull a miracle win out there -- he well could!
Though I am very happy
to see Karan playing there, I am still quite mad at the tournament for the
way they treated Harsh Mankad over the years .. This was one year, with LP
and RB both not playing there, for him to get a wildcard and a chance to
play the main draw of the top Indian event .. And it is quite clear
that the tournament was really giving him the middle finger for daring to
speak out against what they have been doing all these years .. To my knowledge,
he is the only one in Indian tennis circles to say even a word against Tata
Open in public .. So, what exactly did HM say that they are all upset about?
.. Just saying some plain facts, and not really anything else .. Here is what
Harsh said, according to the Indian Express article last month (Dec 5th) -
"Chances of getting a wild card at Tata Open are 50-50. They have not been supportive of me all these years. I dont understand the way they conduct such an important event. I can understand if there are six or seven tours taking place in India but we have only one ATP tour event and the way the organisers treat Indian second-string players is really disappointing." fumed Mankad .. "In 2000, when i made it to the Indian team, myself and Nitin Kirtane, who was also part of the Davis Cup team then, applied for wild cards in doubles. But despite being Davis cuppers we were ignored!" recalled Mankad .. Mankad went on, " In 2000 I won the title at the Krishnan Tennis Tournament beating Sayed Fazalluddin. I was given to understand that the winner of that tournament is given the wild card for Tata Open but here again i was ignored and the wild card was handed over to Fazaluddin" .. "These organisers dont understand that if a Indian youngster does something at an event of this calibre, it changes the whole world for him apart from financial gains".
Pretty candid words
showing his puzzlement at how he gets totally neglected all the time .. And
he did not even talk about anything else he has done in his career (as I do below)
that makes him a candidate for some help from the tournament - he only
talked about facts directly related to the Tata Open and him .. I am told
that it was not a planned outburst or anything but that he was only speaking
frankly when the newspaper reporter kept asking him about the tournament
.. But what Harsh was saying is all every bit true as anybody who has read
what I have written over the years about how this tournament is conducted,
would know .. Calling guys like Wesley Whitehouse who did not even dream
of getting a wildcard and telling him that he had one, when guys like Srinath
and Fazal who were playing the Davis Cup on the weekend couldn't even play
qualies .. Giving a wildcard in 2002 to Oliver Marach, who did not even show
up to get the WC .. Giving it way early to a then-unknown Viniciguerra in
Sweden and then keeping it from the Indian press, which would not even be
known unless I had broken the story here after hearing from Swedish sources
about it .. Heck, even this year, they did not announce that Canas had been
given a wildcard, for at least a week or more - and we found out only through
Canas sources ..
Anyway, I feel bad
for Harsh .. Why am I feeling so strongly about this? .. I know most
of you readers know all this, but consider his records and you decide if
he should be treated like a pariah like this .. He has been first or second
among all the youngsters for something like a 7-8 years now .. Vijay Kannan
was considered better than him for a while, Sunil Kumar was considered better for a while
(and even got a main draw wildcard once at Chennai), but HM is the one who
is still standing .. He is currently second in singles and tops in doubles
among all of the Indian youngsters, but on perceived potential, admittedly
perhaps even correctly, he is considered behind PA and RB again .. He was considered soft,
he was considered not hard-working, he was considered unpatriotic - all at
various times .. All he has done is to plough along .. He
has played Davis Cup for four years, had proven his potential in US college
circuit reaching the #1 spot there as well .. He was the first Indian since
LP and MB to win a title abroad when he did it in the Canada futures in
2001 .. He was the first Indian not named LP or MB ever to reach
a challenger semi last year .. He is also the first one since LP and MB to make it to the top-200 of doubles as well, a few months back ..Heck,
he is currently on a career high ranking in singles and doubles that he reached
by moving up from being nearly unranked about 15 month back .. To boot, he
also has had the best qualifying results of any Indian at Chennai in seven
years (as an 18 year old in 1998 when he reached the final round) .. All with no International Money Grabbers
giving him sponsorship and all .. Only in India that a player with his credentials
can get treated like this! .. Does not bottom line results mean anything
to anybody anymore? .. That he was even as diplomatic as he was in not naming names
in the newspaper article surprises me .. That not a soul from India
seems to have cared to do anything about all this (except Anil Khanna of AITA
who I believe did talk to the Tata Open) is a reflection of how callous everything
has become .. Perhaps staying away from all the camps and politics in Indian
tennis is what Harsh's mistake is .. He should just go and do a pRaNAm to
somebody, say "samastAparAdham" and get the blessings, I suppose .. But
those Tata Open guys out there know a thing or two about how to control the
press/ media and make the apperance of them all being in support of Indian
tennis .. I don't expect anybody to say a word about anything as usual and
this is after all a pretty regular thing that I am used to - feeling upset
about what happens in Chennai ..
By the way, I believe
this is the first time I have really asked for some help to Mankad from Chennai
.. At various times my beef has been about how they treated the Srinaths,
Fazals, etc .. Last year I complained about Rohan being made to wait till
the very end before being given a WC .. I think I also complained about Sunil
being given a wildcard, as I thought it was all way too early (and because
I knew that it was because people were suddenly after signing up the 16 year
old DSCL national champion for sponsorship etc, too - it is always a self-serving
angle in all this) .. Almost every year there is something unpalatable going
on, it would seem.
Having said all that,
I should hasten to add that Karan should not feel he took away a spot from
Harsh .. KR did deserve a wildcard for how well he has done as a 16 year
old this year .. But for Karan and another of my favorite players (Prakash)
playing there and MB being in doubles, I would have decided to take another
week off and forget about even looking at what happens at Chennai next week
OK, on to some other news
-- The entry lists are out for the big Australian ITF events (Grade-2 Victorian
Juniors - 9th, grade-1 Australian Hardcourts - 18th, and the grade-A
Australian Open juniors - 26th) .. Karan Rastogi, Tushar Liberhan, Divij Sharan, and Sanaa Bhambri
are listed for those events .. TL, DS and SB are listed in the main draw
for the second and 3rd events .. Karan was there for the first week also,
but if he ends up winning a round or two at Chennai - which would be incredible and something special
- he may now have to skip it .. Ankita was in the list for the second and
3rd events, and had already moved up to 6th and 9th in the qualies, with
a chance to making it in by the end, but she withdrew as of yesterday - probably
to play the $10K events in India (Hyderabad - 12th, Delhi - 19th) .. What
I am disappointed about is that Tara Iyer, who is doing tremedously this
week in Mexico, is missing from the lists .. I hope she can go down there
and play qualies for the Australian Open at least ..
By the way, Sania
Mirza will not be at the two Indian $10K women's pro events .. The news agency
report today says it is because she will be playing events in Italy .. I
don't think there are events those weeks in Italy, but probably she will
be training and getting ready to play the two Italian challengers in the
two weeks after the Indian events .. If so it is good news actually, because
that means she will be staying longer at San Remo with coach Bob Brett and
getting ready for big time events -- no point in her coming to the two Indian
events and racking up a bunch of wins at that level .. Thinking big and shooting
for bigger things is what we need .. We will see her at the WTA Hyderbad
(Feb 16th) I am sure..
Jan 1 Notes
On the other hand,
that gives a fantastic opportunity to our young lion, Karan .. He will be
ranked around #6 in the world next week in the juniors and is expected to
be the 4th oir 5th seed at the Australian Open juniors .. Go Karan! .
Shubha Nava Vatsaram! ..
Good to be back with the regular news updates .. Lots of stuff to talk about.
First of all, the Tata Open is about to start, the qualifying rounds starting Saturday and the signin by end of Friday .. As
you may have heard by now, Leander Paes decided this week not to play singles
or doubles at Chennai .. From what I have heard, there is no serious concerns,
but he is unsure that he is ready to play yet .. Things taking a little longer
than expected to come together - it is always tough after so many months
of layoff from tennis .. He will use two more weeks of work and get ready
for the Australian Open .. Mahesh was the first one he talkd to - as they
were originally expected to play doubles together there .. Unfortunate ..
But Lee sounds confident of getting back to decent form by the end of the
Australian Open and then the Davis Cup ..
The really bad news
is that Rohan Bopanna has been asked to take rest for 8 weeks by the doctors,
due to a minor fracture on the shoulder which hopefully will go away wuith
rest .. Apparently the problem surfaced a few months back and now it appears
that if he does anything now, he is in danger of bringing on a serious injury
.. Not sure if it is exactly a "stress fracture", which is extremely rare
for shoulders, according to the resident doctors in our forum .. The normal
condition for the shoulder is something like a rotator cuff issue -
but the news reports have not mentioned that .. Anyway, hopefully he will
not need surgery and all that and will be back in Februaruy .. But he is
now confirmed to be unavailable for Davis Cup - so the singles duties out
there will have to be by LP, PA and HM ..
Though the wildcard
meant for LP is now free, the Tata Open folks, strangley, have not announced
whom they will give it to .. There was a PTI report about them saying yesterday
that they would "99 percent" give it to an Indian .. The automatic choice
is of course Harsh Mankad, the second highest ranked Indian (Prakash being
the first, and he has a WC already), and the highest ranked Indian doubles
player after LP and MB .. harsh also has the record as the only Indian to
ever reach even the final round of qualifying at Chennai .. The problem is
that Harsh has been in Florida, training at the Bolletieri's .. He has entered
the Florida futures (starting on Jan 12th and 19th) and didn't have money
to spend to go to India for just one week, just to play the qualies .. As
far as I know, Harsh is ready to fly out tomorrow if there is a main draw wildcard for him (that he richly deserves)
as the prize money will cover his travel .. But the Chennai Open organizers
have not announced a wildcard and it is getting way too late now for Harsh,
who is hoping for some last minute good news from Chennai .. I believe AITA
had recommended Harsh Mankad for a wildcard, but there is nothing they can
do, except to put in a word .. I will hold back any further comment, as I
don't want to cause further problems between Harsh and the tournament --
I dearly hope they will come up with a wildcard for him. But it will
have to be in the next few hours, or it is too late.
The "Indian Oil Servo"
Men's Invitational at the Krishnan Tennis Center outside Chennai got done
today .. There was a decent field there, with Sunil Kumar Sipaeya,
Vijay Kannan, Vinod Sridhar, Ajay Ramaswamy and Somdev Dev Varman in the
frey .. The top seed Sunil Kumar won the title today beating Ajay in the
final -- he made some Rs 40K and got a wildcard entry into the quialifying
rounds at Chennai as well .. Good to see Sunil starting the year well ..
You can see the draw and scores at our KTC invitational page ..
Now on to some great news! .. 15 year old Tara Iyer just became the first Indian girl to reach a Grade-A ITF juniors quarterfinal today! .. At the Copa Casblanca grade-A in Mexico, the 8th seeded Tara Iyer (IND,93) has so far beaten
Andra Savu (ROM,280) 64 75, Liege Vieira (BRA,349) 64 61 and today the 9th
seed, Jennifer Elie (USA,106) 61 64 .. In the quarterfinal, she faces unseeded
Maraike Biglmaier (GER,150) who has upset the 13th seed Teodora Mircic (YUG,147)
and the 2nd seed Chan Yung-Jan (TPE,12)
to reach the QF .. This is one of the very few grade-A events, which give
the same points as a grand slam, except for the champion's bonus .. The field
is quite weaker than at a grand slam, but it is still a big achievement for
young Tara, who has been training in the US for the last few years .. Go
Tara! .. The 80 points for the QF will raise her point total up by 60 to
275 and her ranking to inside the top 60 or 55 next week .. She has started
doing well in doubles as well, something she was not known for earlier ..
Playing with the talented Sanja Ancic of Croatia, she was seeded 5th in doubles
and reached her first grade-A doubles QF as well .. [R1]
(5) Ancic/ Iyer d. Jade Curtis/ Maria Spenceley (GBR) 63 64 .. [R2] d. Shana
Claes BEL / Liege Vieira (BRA) 60 63 .. They went down to the second
seeds Marina Erakovic (NZL)/ Bibiane Schoofs (NED), 36 57 today, but it is
good work by Tara in doubles also this week .. Great to see the girl starting
the year on the right track ..
More junior news --
the AITA Natioinal Junior Masters is underway this week .. This is new in
the calendar and pits the top 8 players in the AITA domestic rank lists (u14
and u18 girls and boys) into a tournament in the same format as the
ATP year end championships .. The first three days of roun robin with two
pools in each of the four catagories, got done today .. The semifinalists
have been spotted .. Take a look at our Junior Year-end Masters
page .. Rupesh Roy, Tushar Liberhan, Sanaa Bhambri, Agnel Gladwyn, GK Shwetha
etc have all reached the SFs .. GK Shwetha is the only one to be in the u14
and u18 semifinals! .. The semifinals are on Friday, when the doubles events
Even more junior news -- this is from last week, when the DSCL National mini and subjunior hardcourts got done .. Large draws there and I have not compiled the results yet into an archive page .. Here are the finals scores - Boys
u16 singles: Peter Agnel Gladwin (MAH) d. Kinshuk Sharma (CHD) 63 62 .. Girls
u16 singles: Shivika Burman (WB) beat Daksha Mulay (MAH) 46 60 76(5) .. Boys
u14 singles: Peter Agnel Gladwin (MAH) d. Vijayant Malik (CHD) 64 63
.. u14 doubles: Krishna Karsolia (UP)/ GP Prajnesh (TN) beat Yuki Bhambri
(DLI)/ Debendra Das (WB) 63 61 .. Girls u14 singles: GK Swetha (KAR) d. Parija
Maloo (MAH) 61 61 .. u14 doubles: Karina Ahuja/ Sanjana Kapoor (DLI) beat
Shivika Burman (WB)/ GK Swetha (KAR) 62 16 64 .. Congratulations to all the
winners! .. Agnel and Shwetha have continued their good work this week as
well, at the AITA Masters.
Dec 23 Notes.
.. I am now fully on vacation for a week (going out of town, actually) .. The next update will be around the Tuesday (30th) .. Meanwhile, the DSCL Open u14 and u16 draws are going on this week .. All four draws have reached the QF levels without all that many upsets, but it will get interesting from now on .. See the wonderful DSCL Open official site for all the prompt score updates (I will archive the scores next week here) ..
Got some pictures
from the two weeks of Delhi action from our press friend Kamesh Srinivasan
(his own snaps, not official newspaper pictures - thanks, Kamesh!) .. I have
put them up at the photo gallery of our forum .. Check out the Asian Juniors album and the DSCL album ..
In other news, Justin
Gimelstob (USA,106) has withdrawn from the Chennai Tata Open (starting Jan
5th) .. He is replaced by Fernando Verdasco (ESP,109) .. Of course,
the Tata Open still has not even opened a website for this year, as far as
we know - pathetic show like last year on that front.
In the ITF juniors, Tara Iyer, based in the US, has been active tfor three weeks .. Could not do much in singles though .. [R1]
(Q) Varvara Lepchenko (USA) d. Tara Iyer, 61 64, two weeks back at the grade-1
US Winter internationals, [R1] (15) Anna Tchakvetadze (RUS,25 - wimbledon
runnerup) d. Tara Iyer (IND,94), 62 63, at the grade-A Orange Bowl last week,
and [R1] Fernanda Hermenegildo (BRA) d. (10) Tara Iyer, 6-4 6-1 at the grade-1
Yucatan Cup in Mexico yesterday .. Tara did reach her first grade-A quarterfinal
in doubles last week with two good wins at the Orange Bowls though .. The
big news was an Indian-American, Neha Uberoi (USA), reaching the final
of the grade-A Orange Bowl, the most prestigious ITF event after the grand
slams, giving the points as grand slams, except for the winner's bonus ..
Neha, who did not play much juniors and started on the senior tour last year
itself, showed that she has terrific talent, by upsetting much more talked
about junior phenoms like the top seed Michaela Krajicek (NED) along the
way to the final which she lost in a tight threesetter! .. Wow!!
Dec 20 Notes
Vacation time here .. I am lazy I guess, and distracted a bit .. OK, here is the news on the DSCL hardcourt nationals titles .. Punna Vishal ended the incredible run of wildcard 17 yr old Divij Sharan in men's final .. Ankita Bhambri won the women's title over sister Sanaa easily .. Navdeep Singh and Punam Reddy won the boys/girls singles .. Ajay-Rishi and Bhambri sisters won men/women doubles .. Sanam-Jeevan and Kartiki-Sandra
won boys/girls doubles .. Sad to see Divij Sharan end up with no gas today
after continuously playing three matches in each of the last four days ..
Here are all the results -- I will add more comments and newspaper links later.
Dec 18 Notes
The DSCL Hardcourt
Nationals reached the semifinal stages on all four singles draws, and the
Delhi kids have been having a grand time so far .. First of all, Divij "Longhorn"
Sharan is in the semis of u18 and men's draws (as well as in the final of
the men's doubles with Somdev) - the boy is clearly showing that HE is the
find of the year .. Based on all the news reports so far, he has come a long
way in his tennis and mental strengths this year .. Sanaa Bhambri of Delhi is also
in both u18 and women's draws (and was still in the women's doubles draw
with sister Ankita when in the latest draw updates I have seen) - that
is truly remarkable for a 15 year old .. Sanam Singh, who stole everyone's
heart yesterday with his incredible upset of Ajay Ramaswamy in a 3-set match he
played soon after winning a three set two-tiebreaker marathon in u18 just
before, had probably nothing left in his tank today .. Apparently he also
lost his grand mother yesterday - so the losses today to 6th and 4th seeds
in the draws was perhaps expected .. The kids are all showing how much the
depth has improved in Indian tennis lately .. Don't forget Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan from TN,
who has quietly won four rounds in the u18, BTW .. On the women's
side, Delhi girl Parul Goswamy's run ended against city-mate Ankita, but she pulled
yet another upset today, this time against the 4th seed in the u18, Sandri
.. The reportedly "much-improved" Punam Reddy is in the semi against Sanaa
in the u18 and almost did a job against women's 7th seed Samrita, falling
in three sets today .. Here are all the scores - the DSCL page ..
There have been some nice
newspaper reports on this event so far .. It is fantastic that three of the
newspaper correspondents who follow the Indian scene very closely are watching
and commenting on all the players in display .. There was a bit of irritation
shown by all of them at first about the top players skipping the DSCL, but they all seem to be thoroughly
enjoying the tournament which has indeed brought out a lot more interesting
"sparks" than ususal, this year .. The links on today's matches - Kamala Kannan wins match, Sanam the hearts (Kamesh Srinivasan, The Hindu) .. Divij and Sanaa keep Delhi’s flag flying (S.Kannan, Hindustan Times) .. Divij Sharan continues dream run (Sukhwant Basra, Times of India) .. On yesterday's matches, here are the links - Afreen shows Liza the door (Kamesh, TH) .. Top seeded women crash out (Kannan, HT) .. Exit bells for several seeds (Sukhwant, TOI) ..
For those who are wondering
what that "Longhorn" reference is, it shows that Divij Sharan will be playing
for the University of Texas, Austin, one of the greatest universities in
the world which is also the best in the world in sports as well (with only
Stanford to rival them closely) .. Texas mascot is a longhorn variety bull
.. Of course, I am a graduate from there - wouldn't you guess? :) .. But
really, it is true that they are thge best sports univ in the world .. In
tennis however, Texas is not as well-known as in football, baseball, basketball,
swimming, etc, but they are normally at least in the top 15 or 20 in rankings
in the US .. That Texas signed him up this early to play for them next August,
is a sign of how highly they thought of his potential ...
Dec 17 Notes
It was announced by Krishna Bhupathi, tournament director for the Hyderabad WTA Indian Open (Feb 16-22), that there will be a pretty good field in the upcoming edition .. The news release from Globosport says - "The
cut-off has been applied at an astonishingly high world-ranking of 121, and
the list includes 16 Top 100 players ... The list of participants includes
Tamarine Tanasugarn, winner of the inaugural 2003 edition of the WTA Indian
Open, as well as the 2003 runner up and Asian Games Gold Medalist as Iroda
Tulyaganova. Other stars to play at The WTA Indian Open 2004 include World
No.1 Doubles player, Virginia Ruano Pascual, four time WTA Tour champion
Ruxandra Dragomir Ilie and two-time WTA Tour winner Barbara Rittner ... The
waiting list includes Maria Kirilenko, the 16-year-old Russian prodigy widely
regarded as the best young player in the world .... Besides the abovementioned
names, there will be at least one or two marquee names from the WTA's 'Gold
and Silver Exempt' lists that will be announced at a later stage. This very
provision saw two-time Grand Slam Champion Mary Pierce participate last year"
.. Hey, that is nice news .. Good to know that the tournament will be at
least as interesting as the last edition which was a lot of fun!
I also hear from Globosport that they helped Isha Lakhani and Megha Vakharia also go to Bob Brett's academy for training till January .. The funding for these two came mostly from MSLTA (Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Assciation) .. They
will join Sania Mirza, who is already there, with sponsorship from the Sports
Authority of Andhra Pradesh .. That is exactly what our top junior girls
needed .. Great work by Mahesh Bhupathi's Globosport in making it all happen!
Things got very interesting today at the DSCL National Hardcourts (see the DSCL page for scores) .. Some top seeds got upset, but the biggest upset of the day came from a 15 year old player - Sanam Krishna Singh
upset the 4th seed Ajay Ramaswamy in a 26 76(4) 64 comeback .. Though I had
written earlier about Sanam as a top talent, this is quite an astonishing
result, knowing all the abilities and experience Ajay has .. Sanam is also
in the QF of the u18 draw .. The
Divij-Tushar match turned out to be a good one and Divij advanced in a three-setter
.. Vinod, Vishal and Somdev have all quietly reached the QF.. Actually
Vinod-vs-Somdev will be a good one to look for in the QFs ..
The kids are creating
serious noise on the women's side too, with the top three seeds getting upset
.. The big one was the second seed Sai Jayalakshmy falling to S.Punam Reddy, 57 57 .. What happened there, I don't know .. Punam
is 16 years old and has been on the ITF junior tour for a couple of years
without any earthshattering results .. But she had certainly come on strong
late this year in the three Indian ITF event, sharing a title at the Mumbai
grade-4, beating Madura, Parul, Vandana and falling only to Ankita and Isha
.. Perhaps Punam is ready for a breakthrough? -- I hope so .. Liza Perieira,
due to how the rankings worked out, ended up as the top seed in the women's
draw but was ousted by 16 yr old qualifier Afreen Jahan .. And, not to be
outdone, Sanaa Bhambri upset the 3rd seed Archana, which is not a huge surprise
if Sanaa has returned to her usual form from before the arm injury this year
.. Shruti and Ankita have had no trouble so far.
The u18 girls draw saw 7 seeds reach the QFs with the only upset coming from Parul Goswami
who beat the 8th seed Meghna, to follow up on her upset of Sheetal in the
women's draw yesterday (she made the QF there too) ..
In the boys' u18, the big win was by Navdeep Singh
who upset the top seed Rupesh Roy in three sets .. He is a kid who grew up
in the Gulf and is undergoing training in UK these days -- the newspaper
correspondents from Delhi seemed impressed with his first round play .. He
turns 17 early next year and has a year to create some noise in the ITF juniors
.. This was a big win for the boy who is very focussed in his tennis career
.. Divij Sharan, M.Jeevan etc have quietly reached the QFs.
Though I was a bit
sad to see a few of the top players skipping the event, in retrospect,
it may not be a bad thing after all .. Rather than the top players taking
out some of these youngsters, the kids are all getting a chance to go up
against good senior players and create some good results for themselves,
get noticed, and pick up some momentum and self-confidence for the next year ..
Dec 16 Notes
The DSCL Hardcourt Nationals had all four draws reach pre-quarterfinal
stage today .. There were a couple of upsets .. A big surprise was 8th seed
Sheetal going down in the women's draw to young Parul Goswamy, easily the
biggest upset of Parul's career .. In the u18 boys' draw, the 6th
seed Siddharth Patil fell in a long 3-setter to Kaushik Raju (KAR) and 8th
seed S.Prateek fell to a Syed Rahil from Karnataka whom I had not noticed
before .. All eight seeds in the girls' draw reached the PQF and 14 of the
16 seeds in the boys' draw (which is the only 64-draw there) .. Seven seeds
each from the men's and women's draws also stayed alive .. The match
of the day was certainly between two of the talented youngsters, Tushar Liberhan
who recently turned 17 and Rupesh Roy who is way too good that nobody seems
to want to believe his official age of 14 years and 10 months .. Everybody
looks at Rupesh as somebody ready to challenge the top u18 boys and that
he did well .. Tushar, who has lately been in superb form, was up to the
task though .. Here are the reports from S.Kannan in the Hindustan Times and from Kamesh Srinivasan in The Hindu
.. Another ineteresting men's duel was between the Delhi boy Parantap Chaturvedi
and experienced Rishi Sridhar, which was postponed from yesterday - Parantap
won a long affair in a 3rd set tiebreaker; Rishi has not been in top form
for quite a while this year .. Archana Venkatraman had to summon up all her
experience in the women's draw to get past talented 15 year old who was the
u16 and u18 champion last year at Delhi .. Preethi
Subrahmanian from TN has been having a good tournament so far - she beat
Varsha Shivshankar in the women's draw and now faces the same player in the
u18 draw tomorrow .. Preethi is from Kovai, if I am not mistaken (Niru's
hometown) - I wonder if she can give Ankita a match tomorrow in the women's
draw; doubtful though .. Another interesting match today was from AjitPal
Singh's son Gurmehar who played a protracted threesetter to beat experienced
Vasudev Reddy .. There
are a lot of interesting final-16 matches coming up .. Tushar-vs-Divij (men),
Archana-vs-Sanaa (women), Sanaa-vs-Shwetha (u18), Rupesh-vs-Navneet (u18),
are some .. See the results in our DSCL page ..
Dec 15 Notes
Interesting stuff from London yesterday .. BBC flew in Leander Paes to give a surprise present to Martina Navratilova .. The Life Time Achievement Award at their Sport Personality of the Year show yesterday .. Here is the BBC article - http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/3310727.stm .. Excerpts - "It's
a great honour," she said, after being presented the award by mixed doubles
partner Leander Paes who has recently overcome a serious illness ... "The
most amazing thing is Leander being here. It wasn't the icing on the cake,
it was the cake." ..
I actually knew about
BBC planning this, but it was all in strict confidence, as they wanted it
to remain a surprise for Martina .. The old lady deserves all the accolades,
of course ..
At the DSCL Nationals,
there weren't too many surprises today in the first round, except for Divij
Sharan upsetting the 5th seed Jaco Mathew - which really can't be considered
a big surprise .. I have updated all the singles results at our DSCL page .. Will add doubles results soon.
Today's ITF junior
ranks show three Indians in the top-6 of doubles .. Divij Sharan is #5 with
Karan Rastogi and Somdev Varman tied for 6th .. Arun Prakash is at 12th ..
In singles, Karan Rastogi moved to a career-high #17 in the junior ranks
and Arun to #35 .. In the ATP men's ranks, Harsh Mankad moved up to a career
high #340 .. Prakash is at #280 and Rohan is at #345 .. In doubles, Harsh
is at #181, Rohan at #210 and Prakash at #237 .. These are pretty much the
year end rankings ..
.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Dec 15 ..
I am getting some inquiries from US college coaches who are interested
in Indian junior players .. I would like to be able to contact Indian
players (some of the coaches are inquiring about specific names) .. If
any of the junior players are reading this, please contact me .. Or if
any of the other readers know the contact emails/address for any junior
player, let me know .. I would like to have a mailing list where I can
post general announcements and inquiries from the coaches too .. Please
email me - R.Jayakrishnan.